Brooklyn Nine-Nine Season 7 Episode 9 Review [’Dillman’]

 ***Spoilers Ahead***

Andy Samberg (left), Joe Lo Trugilo (right). Photo Credit: NBC

More often than not, the writers of Brooklyn Nine-Nine tend to scatter out the core characters of the series for each episode, placing a handful of them in the main story and others in smaller side plots. Because of this, screentime is divided disproportionately and some cast members get more time to shine than others. While there is nothing inherently wrong with this method of storytelling, outings that feature the entire squad in one overarching plotline always have a grander feel to them. Not only does the story have more time to develop with the absence of other plots, but there are more opportunities for characters that would not normally connect to interact with each other. In the same vein as season one's 48 Hours and season two's Lockdown, 'Dillman' forces the officers to remain in the precinct for a half-hour that advances the relationship between Peralta & Boyle while flawlessly using a guest appearance to drive the central conflict.

Laying out the foundation for the episode, the cold open scene involves Jake asking Holt to consider him for a task force that the captain is on a hiring committee for. Their exchanges are ultimately cut short as the explosion of a package full of red glitter sends the entire precinct into a frenzy. Desperate to figure out who was behind the prank, Holt sends in detective Dillman (Whiplash's J.K. Simmons) to find the culprit. After many episodes of Captain Holt acting out, engaging in childish insults, and partaking in meaningless competitions, Braugher's character makes a successful transition back to the rock-solid stoic demeanor he maintained during the early years of the series. Although his reckless side is always welcome, the reason his unprofessional behavior was so memorable was because the nuggets of comedy were administered in smaller doses. The more Holt acts out, the less amusing and jarring those sequences become. As a result, the fact that he acts more stern towards Peralta here (even going as far as suspending him) serves as a rather healthy return to his coveted role as an authority figure.

That being said, Holt's return to form is far from the only stimulating development to arrive with the episode. In fact, J.K. Simmons's Dillman steals the show with his apathetic attitude and intrusive investigation method. His tendency to play mind games with the squad makes him the clear antagonist figure and Simmons completely immerses himself in the role. The way he attempts to dismantle or strengthen the alibis of Terry and Rosa put the usually secure characters in an unfamiliar but exhilarating position. It's not often that the Nine-Nine officers face a serious mental threat from an outside force given they usually find themselves taking down criminals or engaging in office hijinks. Amidst that, the relationship between Peralta and Boyle return to the forefront after Holt reveals he wanted to give Boyle the task force instead of Peralta.

At first glance, Peralta's dismissive and demeaning reaction to finding out Holt chose Boyle over him comes off as rather upsetting. Considering how Boyle blindly supports him through thick and thin, the way Peralta initially acts like Boyle is not worthy of taking the task force portrays an alarming imbalance in their friendship. Thankfully, the storyline resolves in a satisfying manner with Boyle finding the policeman who actually placed the glitter package and ultimately saving Peralta from being suspended from the force. It's fairly rare to see Boyle not only save the day but showcase that he truly is a legitimately competent detective despite his quirks. To top it off, Peralta apologizes to Boyle and praises him for solving the case. It's a wholesome ending that vividly conveys Peralta does indeed care for Boyle, viewing him as his equal rather than a sidekick.

Above anything else, the members of the precinct are a tight-knit but dysfunctional family. 'Dillman' excels in the way that it pits some characters against each other while introducing a fresh new rival into the mix. Given season seven has mainly relied on old gimmicks and cast members (Pontiac Bandit, Pimento, Jimmy Jabs), it's a nice change of pace to introduce a new face and place Peralta, Boyle, and the others in uncommon scenarios. While it does have similarities to past installments featuring the core members in quarantine, 'Dillman' still manages to explore the dynamics between the squad in spectacular fashion.

Stray Thoughts
  • It was pretty brilliant that the one who committed the prank was the same guy Peralta initially accused in a somewhat joking manner. 
  • Scully never ended up cleaning the red glitter off his face. 
  • The best exchange of the episode came when Jake & Charles had a fake conversation to throw off Dillman. 
  • Boyle: Yes, Jake, you were young when you lost your virginity. 
  • Jake: Thank you, Charles!
  • The following episode features the return of Peralta's father. He hasn't appeared on the show since Fox canceled the series.

Grade: A

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